A YEAR IN THE WOODS © 2017
Creative Editions
Author: Henry David Thoreau / Illustrator: Giovanni Manna
Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon, September 2017
 

The forest that Giovanni Manna depicts in A Year in the Woods only briefly shows itself in frozen guise. Otherwise, all is green and lush, moonlit or sun-dappledthe perfect setting for excerpts from the writings of the naturalist Henry David Thoreau. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived, reads the opening passage in this slim and handsome version of Walden for children ages 711.

In restful watercolor paintings, we see Thoreau (181762) as a young man, contemplating tranquil waters and green hills; building a small wooden house at the edge of a stand of evergreens; and, later, hoeing his garden and taking his ease amid the pines and filtered sunlight of his open-air withdrawing room. To spend time with a book like this is to come away revived: Like the surface of Walden Pond, there is no agitation here but only refreshment.